( according to the Church Calendar)
1. THE HOLY MARTYRS COSMAS AND DAMIAN
Cosmas and Damian were unmercenary physicians and miracle-workers. These two saints were brothers, were born in Rome and as children were baptized and brought up in the Christian spirit. They possessed abundant grace from God to heal men and livestock from every disease and suffering, usually by the laying on of hands. They sought no reward for their efforts. They only required of the infirm to believe in Christ the Lord. Inheriting a large estate, they charitably distributed it to the needy and to those in want. At that time, Emperor Galerius reigned in Rome. As a persecutor of Christianity, he summoned these two holy brothers before him shackled in chains. After a prolonged interrogation the emperor ordered them to deny Christ and to offer sacrifices to the idols. Cosmas and Damian not only did not heed the emperor but also counseled him to abandon the dead idols and to recognize the One True God. "Our God is not created but He is the Creator of all, but your gods are the imaginations of man and the work of the hands of artists. If you did not have artists to make your gods, you would have no one to worship." After working a miracle upon the emperor himself-for they miraculously cured him from a grave infirmity - the emperor proclaimed his faith in Christ and released the holy brothers in peace. Cosmas and Damian continued to glorify God and to heal the sick and were themselves, glorified by the people on all sides. Envious of their glory, a certain doctor who, at one time was their teacher, and with the pretext to gather healing herbs, led them into the mountain and stoned them to death. They suffered honorably for the Faith of Christ in the year 284 A.D. Their memory remains eternal in the Church on earth and their souls took up habitation in the Kingdom of the Lord to live eternally in glory and in joy.
2. VENERABLE PETER, THE PATRICIAN
This saint was a nobleman from Constantinople and a commander during the reign of Emperor Nicephorus. In a war with the Bulgarians, Emperor Nicephorus was slain and Peter, with fifty Greek commanders and princes, was captured and cast into prison. St. John the Theologian miraculously freed Peter from prison. Peter then despised all earthly glory, left his wife and son, and withdrew to Mount Olympia where, as a monk and as a disciple of St. Joannicius the Great, lived a life of mortification for thirty-four years. Following the death of his wife and son, he settled in Constantinople where he spent eight more years in fasting and prayer and fell asleep in the Lord in the year 865 A.D. in the seventy-seventh year of his life.
3. THE HOLY MARTYR POTITUS
Potitus was a thirteen-year-old child who was born in Sardinia. He endured much suffering for Christ both from his father and from the civil persecutors of Christianity. Potitus was beheaded during the reign of Emperor Antoninus (138-161 A.D.) but, before this, Potitus cured and baptized Agnes, the daughter of the emperor.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The young Potitus, the parent asked:
When your Faith is so true,
Would you for it give your life?
Potitus replied: The Savior promised,
To gird all of His faithful with strength,
That for Him one could easily suffer;
In that I hope, even I, and I believe much,
That I could suffer for my Christ.
Father, my God is great and glorious,
Miraculous and mighty, living and life giving.
He, the young David, helped in battle
That he decapitated the head of the terrible Goliath;
With me on the path of suffering, He will be
So that the dark and bitter death, I can endure.
When Gilas, the father, heard from his son,
As though, of divine wine, he drank,
And aloud cried out: where are my years!
Behold, from a child, truth I learned!
Baptism he received and was numbered among the faithful.
And in blood, the martyr Potitus was baptized.
Through their prayers and alms for the deceased, Christians display the relationship between this world and the world to come. The Church in this world and the Church in the other world are one and the same - one body, one in being - as does the root of a tree beneath the earth comprise one organism with the trunk and the branches of the tree above the earth. It is clear from this how we who comprise the Church on earth can receive help from the saints and the righteous ones from the Heavenly Church as well as the deceased sinners in the other world can receive help from us on earth. St. Athanasius says: "As it happens with wine inside a barrel which, when the vineyard blooms in the field, senses it and the wine itself blossoms together with it, so it is with the souls of sinners. They receive some relief from the Bloodless Sacrifice offered for them and from charity" performed for their repose. St. Ephren the Syrian cites that same example with wine and the vineyard and concludes: "And so, when there exists such mutual sensitivity even among plants, is not the prayer and sacrifice felt even more for the departed ones?"
To contemplate the miraculous change of water into wine (St. John 2):
1. How the Lord, at the marriage at Cana, changed the water into wine;
2. How, even my soul, if it is wedded to the Living God, transforms its wateriness into divine beverage.
About how we should rejoice in Christ
"In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials" (1 Peter 1:6).
Thus speaks St. Peter the Apostle whose life was filled with many temptations and frequent sorrows. Thus speaks the man who left his home and family members and followed after Christ and who, for the sake of Christ, endured many difficulties: from hunger, from thirst, from the Jews, from the Romans, from false prophets, from cruel heathens and who, in the end was crucified on the cross, all for the sake of the Lord Christ. He, who in this life was unmercifully scourged with great sorrows and great temptations, counsels us to rejoice in Christ so that this joy may swallow up all our proportionally lessor sorrows and temptations.
But why brethren should we rejoice in Christ?
Because He revealed and showed us the reality of the greatest and most beautiful hopes and dreams of mankind;
He revealed to us the One God, Living, Omnipotent, All-wise All-merciful and He gave us the privilege to call ourselves His sons;
He revealed and showed us the immortal and eternal life; life incomparably better than this life on earth;
He revealed to us the spiritual kingdom; the kingdom of angels and the righteous; the kingdom of all good and the light of truth and justice;
He revealed and showed us the goal of our existence here on earth and the purpose for all our efforts and sufferings in this transient life;
He revealed to us the ocean of heavenly joy compared to all of our sorrows and temptations as a drop of muddy water, which cannot disturb or muddy that ocean.
O brethren, what joy awaits us! O brethren, how small a price does our Lord ask of us to purchase this joy in which the angels bathe and in which the righteous swim! Only to fulfill a few of His short commandments that is the entire price!
O Lord Jesus, the all-miraculous source of our joy, our boast and our pleasure, our glory and our thanks, place Your finger on our mouths and do not allow a drop of muddy sorrow and temptations to poison us.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.